What is the Monsanto Protection Act?

The Monsanto Protection Act – ever heard of it?

It’s actually called HR 933 and it’s been in the news a lot lately. Huffington Post covered it. International Business Times wrote about it in some detail and threw the modifier ‘terrifying’ into their headline to really catch folks’ attention. CBS threw in on the conversation, too, among many (many) others.

So, what happened?

Late in March, a continuing resolution, or spending bill, reached Obama’s desk and he signed it, much to the indignation of over 250,000 citizens who had signed a petition that Food Democracy Now hosted. Within this bill lurked scary language that, according to news reports, I’ve deduced to mean that Monsanto and other companies that create genetically-tweaked seeds are now allowed to plant that seed whenever they want, even if a court ruling barred them from such planting.

I’m confused about this. I didn’t know that a corporation could override judicial power.

Well, they couldn’t until now. That’s why I didn’t think it was possible. Though there are many opponents to this bill that are upset purely over handing more power to Monsanto and other big seed companies, there are protesters popping up along the cultural prairie who say ‘wait, no – that’s not okay. – this is setting a precedent for other corporations to trump judicial power.’

Below, in italics, is the portion of the continuing resolution that protesters have called ‘The Monsanto Protection Act.’ I have no idea how these words turn into an idea so significant and upsetting, but (somehow) they do.

Sec. 735. In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the Secretary’s evaluation of the petition for non-regulated status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and carry out other authorized activities in a timely manner:Provided, That all such conditions shall be applicable only for the interim period necessary for the Secretary to complete any required analyses or consultations related to the petition for non-regulated status: Provided further, That nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the Secretary’s authority under section 411, 412 and 414 of the Plant Protection Act.

After reading this, I don’t know exactly how Monsanto and other seed companies can plant whatever they want without an ethical obligation to anybody, but folks all over the place are up in arms.

All I know is – now I really want to know. Maine’s LD718 would require food producers and manufacturers to label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. I wanted to know before, just because I didn’t think it’d hurt to have a little more information about my food options. Now I really want to know, for the simple reason that, should they (They?) decide to plant against the interest of public safety, I’d at least like a gateway of knowledge, a label, that tells me there’s genetically-tweaked ingredients in my food.

Let’s do this, Maine. Contact your representative. Tell ‘em what you want to know.

Need more info? MOFGA’s on it.

FMI on Jenna and her writing, click here.

Jenna Beaulieu

About Jenna Beaulieu

Jenna is a writer and fine art photographer who recently moved from the Saint John Valley region to Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island. She’s a fan of excellent music, homemade gravy, and colored pencils (also, short books and long books, good pens, flannel, and when the June bugs don’t really come out much that year). For more about Jenna and her work, visit her website at www.jennabeaulieu.com